USS Leary DD-879 (1945-1973)
The USS Leary was the second ship in the Navy to be the namesake of Lieutenant Clarence F Leary. The radio sign for the Leary was “Home Run.” She was built by Consolidated Steel Corporation out of Orange, Texas. The Leary was classified as a Gearing class destroyer. Her displacement was 3,460 tons, with a length of 390’6″. Her beam was 41’1″ and the draft was 18’6″. Her top speed was 34 knots.
The Leary was officially commissioned on May 7, 1945 and completed her shakedown on June 23. She then left her training base of Guantanamo Bay and headed for her home base of Norfolk. She underwent an overhaul and upgrade there. She was now a radar picket destroyer.
Service in the U.S. Navy
The Leary then left for Boston where she received fire control work. The ship then proceeded to Casco Bay. She worked in collaboration with a Task Force to develop effective defense strategies against Kamikaze attacks. As a part of Task Force 69, she was to report to Kure. After a time there, the Leary proceeded towards Yokosuka. She experienced damage while performing exercises. This mandated a stay for repairs, and then she rejoined her division in heading for Guam.
The Leary became part of the WESPAC Strike Force TF77 in Guam. When the Leary was deployed to the Mediterranean she joined the 6th Fleet. She also participated actively in the blockade and quarantines of Cuba from October 22 to November 24, 1962. From August 6 to 27 the Leary was stationed in Santo Domingo to act in a peacekeeping capacity. She, as were other U.S. forces, was there to ensure the prevention of political chaos and subversions.
Vietnam brought active duty to the Leary. She was responsible for protecting aircraft carriers in the Tonkin Gulf. Many times she had to lay down fire to guard the carriers. She also did search and rescue operations, and saved many who were stranded at sea.
The USS Leary was also very active during Operation Sea Dragon. She destroyed many land targets. On January 30 1968 she returned to Norfolk. Shortly after that, she received orders to report to the Atlantic coast for maneuvers. When this duty was done, the Leary reported to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for maintenance.
The USS Leary gave the United States 28 years of honorable and reliable service. She was decommissioned on October 31, 1973, and stricken from the Naval Register in 1975. Three years later, she was loaned to Spain to help fight piracy and smuggling. Once Spain joined NATO, the Leary served with this organization, until ultimately being scrapped in 1992.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, especially during World War II, naval destroyers also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.